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Transgender man murdered in Virginia

EJ Boykin, a transgender man, was shot to death outside a Family Dollar store in Lynchburg, Va., on June 14.



23-year-old Black trans man EJ Boykin also known as Novaa Watson (Photo via Facebook)

LYNCHBURG, Va. — A transgender man was murdered in Lynchburg, Va., on June 14.

The News and Advance, a local newspaper, reported EJ Boykin, who was also known as Novaa Watson, was shot outside a Family Dollar store on the city’s Fort Avenue at around 6 p.m. Boykin passed away at Lynchburg General Hospital a short time later.

A spokesperson for the Lynchburg Police Department told the News and Advance the shooting may have been the result of a domestic dispute. Authorities added there is no evidence to currently suggest the shooting was a hate crime based on Boykin’s gender identity.

Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents reported Boykin was born and raised in Baltimore and was a student at Morgan State University. The blog said Boykin celebrated his 23rd Birthday on June 10, four days before his murder.

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign’s Transgender Justice Initiative, in a statement notes Boykin is the fifth trans man reported killed in 2021. HRC notes at least 29 trans or gender non-conforming people are known to have been murdered so far this year.

“The level of fatal violence we’ve recorded this year is higher than we’ve ever seen,” said Cooper. “All of these individuals deserved to live. We must strike at the roots of racism and transphobia, and continue to work toward justice and equality for trans and gender non-conforming people.”



LGBTQ ally Rep. Gerry Connolly’s staff attacked in district office

The suspect is 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, who attacked staff sending two to local hospital with non-life threatening injuries



Congressman Gerry Connolly speaking at a protest outside the NRA's national headquarters on Waples Mill Road in Fairfax County, VA. May 25, 2022. (Photo Credit: Office of Rep. Gerry Connolly)

FAIRFAX CITY, Va. – An assailant armed with a metal baseball-style bat charged into the office of Virginia 11th District U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, (D) Monday morning looking for the congressman and attacked staff sending two to local hospital with non-life threatening injuries according to the Fairfax City Police.

In a press release, Fairfax Police identified the suspect as 49-year-old Xuan Kha Tran Pham, a Fairfax County resident. Investigators told local media outlets that one of the victims was an intern who was on her first day on the job, the other a senior aide who was hit in her head with the metal bat. Pham also damaged parts of the office on the first floor of an office building at at 10680 Main Street by breaking glass and shattering computers.


On Monday afternoon, Connolly released the following statement:

“This morning, an individual entered my District Office armed with a baseball bat and asked for me before committing an act of violence against two members of my staff. The individual is in police custody and both members of my team were transferred to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Right now, our focus is on ensuring they are receiving the care they need. We are incredibly thankful to the City of Fairfax Police Department and emergency medical professionals for their quick response.

“I have the best team in Congress. My District Office staff make themselves available to constituents and members of the public every day. The thought that someone would take advantage of my staff’s accessibility to commit an act of violence is unconscionable and devastating.”

NBC News has reported that Pham filed a lawsuit against the CIA last year in which he claimed the agency had been “wrongfully imprisoning [him] in a lower perspective based on physics,” and alleging that he is being “brutally tortured… from the fourth dimension.”

The complaint, which seeks $29 million in damages, aligns with the beliefs of conspiracy theorists who claim they are being “gangstalked,” or secretly watched and psychologically tortured using nonexistent technology.

Rep. Connolly is a long term ally of the LGBTQ+ community in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia where he has previously served as the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

He is an original cosponsor of the Equality Act and was one of the voices in opposition to the ban by former President Trump on the military service by transgender Americans. The Human Rights Campaign has recognized Congressman Connolly commitment to LGBTQ+ Americans as an ally with a 100% rating for a sixth consecutive term.

Virginia congressman’s office staff attacked by bat-wielding suspect:

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Virginia County pulls funding over arts center drag design class

The Arts Center in Orange “indefinitely” postponed the class by the drag performer after opposition by county board members



The Orange County, Virginia Board of Supervisors (Photo Credit: Orange County, Virginia government)

ORANGE, Va. – The Orange County, Va., Board of Supervisors last week released its proposed fiscal year 2024 budget that removes $9,000 in funding it approved last year for the nonprofit Arts Center In Orange in response to plans by the center to host a design class taught by a local drag performer.

According to Equality Virginia, the statewide LGBTQ rights organization, members of the Board of Supervisors “have specifically tied the revocation of funding to this planned event,” an action that Equality Virginia calls “harmful and insidious” and that follows attacks on drag shows and drag performers surfacing in many other states.

“Earlier this year, the same Board also voted to revoke a $4,500 matching grant from the Arts Center, which was allocated and approved in the prior year’s budget,” Equality Virginia says in an April 5 statement. “Both of these actions happened after the Arts Center planned an event with a local drag performer who was scheduled to teach a class on makeup, costuming and hairstyling,” the statement says.

News media outlets in the Orange County area have reported that the Arts Center in Orange “indefinitely” postponed the class by the drag performer after opposition by county board members and others first surfaced in January. Nick Morrow, a spokesperson for Equality Virginia, said the Board of Supervisors continued efforts to defund the Arts Center even though the “drag” class has never taken place.  

In an April 4 story, the Orange County Review reports that it obtained an email dated Jan. 18 in which Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Johnson expressed agreement with a constituent who requested that the county revoke its funding of the Arts Center because the planned class was to be taught by the drag performer.

The newspaper quoted the individual who wrote to Johnson asking that the funds be revoked as telling Johnson the revocation was needed to “protect children from adults who prey on them with sexually explicit agendas.” The newspaper reported, “Johnson said that he agreed with the individual’s comments and outlined the board’s plans to defund the center through the county’s budget process.”

The Orange County Review also reports that the Orange County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget at its April 18 meeting and a vote on the proposed budget was scheduled to take place one week later on April 25. 

“As politicians across the country attack drag performers and drag shows, purposely spreading disinformation about what drag actually is, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is hopping on the political bandwagon,” said Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman in the group’s statement.

“It’s disappointing and sad,” Rahaman said. “Drag is not inherently harmful. Drag is not inherently insidious. But yanking funding and suppressing programming because it doesn’t align with their narrow worldview is both harmful and insidious,” she said. “The Board should be ashamed of itself.”

When asked about the board’s decision to revoke funding for the Arts Center in Orange, Board of  Supervisors Chair Johnson told the Orange County Review that the board has never attempted to tell any of the groups it funds how they should spend the funds they receive from the county.

But Johnson added, “as with any discretionary spending, the Board can choose to increase, decrease, or eliminate funding to any specific entity.”

The Washington Blade couldn’t immediately determine whether an official with Equality Virginia or representatives of other LGBTQ organizations or activists planned to speak at the April 18 public hearing before the Orange County Board of Supervisors in support of reinstating funding for the Arts Center.

Orange County is located about 30 miles west of Fredericksburg, Va. and about 15 miles south of Culpeper.

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Virginia bill would force school staff to out transgender students

HB 1434 would require schools to notify parents if they are trans & prevent trans kids from being acknowledged as who they are in school



Virginia State Del. Tara Durant (R-Fredericksburg) (Photo via Twitter)

RICHMOND – Virginia state Del. Tara Durant (R-Fredericksburg) on Monday introduced a bill that would require school personnel to notify a student’s parents if they are transgender.

House Bill 1707 would require “any person licensed as administrative or instructional personnel by the Board of Education and employed by a local school board who, in the scope of his employment, has reason to believe, as a result of direct communication from a student, that such student is self-identifying as a gender that is different than his biological sex to contact, as soon as practicable and in accordance with board guidelines, at least one of such student’s parents to ask whether such parent is aware of the student’s mental state and whether the parent wishes to obtain or has already obtained counseling for such student.” 

The Fredericksburg Republican who is running for the Virginia Senate introduced HB 1707 two days before the Virginia General Assembly’s 2023 legislative session begins.

State Del. Karen Greenhalgh (R-Virginia Beach) has introduced a bill that would ban trans athletes from school sports teams that correspond with their gender identity. State Del. Jason Ballard (R-Giles County)’s House Bill 1434 would ban “any school board member or school board employee from changing the name of a student enrolled in the local school division on any education record relating to such student unless the member or employee receives a change of name order for such student that was issued in accordance with relevant law.”

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin last September announced his plans to revise guidelines for trans and nonbinary students that his predecessor, Democratic Ralph Northam, signed in 2020. The Virginia Department of Education has not announced when the proposed changes will take effect.

State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who is the first openly trans woman elected to a state legislature in the U.S., on Tuesday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview that HB 1707 would forcibly out trans students. The Manassas Democrat who is also running for the state Senate further noted HB 1434 would “prevent trans kids from being acknowledged as who they are in school.”

“This is what happens when straight people, never in their lives, have worried about being outed to other people,” said Roem.

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Proposed revision of Virginia trans student protections objected to

All of the commission’s five Democratic members voted to object to proposed revisions, all four Republican members did not



Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera answers questions from Virginia’s Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Dec. 19 about the proposed 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools. (Nathaniel Cline/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND – Members of the Virginia Joint Commission on Administrative Rules on Monday voted to formally object to Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed revisions to guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

The Virginia Mercury reported all of the commission’s five Democratic members voted to object to Youngkin’s proposed revisions, while all four Republican members opted to support them. The commission will now send an objection letter to the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Registrar of Regulations.

Youngkin in September announced his plans to revise the guidelines that his predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020. The Joint Commission on Administrative Rules’ vote took place on the same day it held a hearing on the proposed policy revisions. 

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa Rahaman and state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) are among those who testified against them. Education Secretary Aimee Guidera spoke in favor.

“The policy was submitted for public comment and we are still reviewing those comments,” said Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter in an email to the Washington Blade. “The governor does not support the commission’s decision.”

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Virginia shopping center hit with homophobic, racist graffiti

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michele Bowman said another, similar display of hate graffiti was found on Saturday at the nearby Dulles Landing



Graffiti at a Loudoun County shopping center is being investigated as a hate crime. (Photo Credit: Timbers Landscaping Care LLC/Facebook)

SOUTH RIDING, Va. – The Loudoun County, Va., Sheriff’s Office is seeking help from the public for its investigation into an incident on Friday, Dec. 2, in which an unidentified suspect or suspects spray-painted anti-LGBTQ, racist, and anti-Semitic graffiti at a shopping center.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office told the Washington Blade the graffiti, which is considered an act of vandalism and is being investigated as a possible hate crime, was found painted on the side of a building that once housed a Food Lion supermarket at the South Riding Town Center, which is located near Dulles airport about four miles west of Chantilly.

The Sheriff’s Office did not disclose the exact wording of the graffiti. But news media reports, including a report by WTOP News, said the graffiti included Nazi swastikas, racial slurs, and the phrase “stop white genocide.”

Among the graffiti messages was the symbol “1488,” which indicates “the perpetrator’s endorsement of white supremacy and its beliefs,” according to a statement from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington as reported by the local publication Inside NOVA.

Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Michele Bowman said another, similar display of hate graffiti was found on Saturday behind the Bed Bath & Beyond building at the nearby Dulles Landing shopping center. Bowman said the Sheriff’s Office is also investigating that incident.

“There is no place in society for this behavior,” a statement released by the Sheriff’s Office on Facebook says.

“The LCSO takes this very seriously and is working with our station detectives, School Resource Officers, and our FBI Task Force member, and is reviewing social media and other potential leads to determine who is responsible for this vile act,” the statement says.

“We are asking the public for their assistance as well,” it says. “If anyone has information that may be helpful, please call Detective Fornwalt at 703-777-1021,” the statement says.

Loudoun4All, which describes itself as an advocacy organization that supports equality, announced on Facebook that it organized a rally on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the site of the graffiti at South Riding Town Center to speak out against hate.

The announcement says the group also arranged for volunteers to help remove the graffiti after learning that the Sheriff’s Office does not have authority to remove such graffiti on private property.

“About 50 local residents joined the rally, which took place along the side of Tall Cedars Parkway where the graffiti had been painted,” the group said in its Facebook posting. “Rally goers held signs with inclusive and supportive messages and waved at cars driving by,” the posting says.

It says that local resident Quante Timbers, the owner of Timbers Landscaping Care, LLC, volunteered his services by bringing a power washer to the site to remove most of the graffiti.

“Where his hoses wouldn’t reach, local kids converted the spray-painted message of hate into chalked messages of love,” the Loudoun4All statement says.

Loudoun Sheriff’s spokesperson Bowman said there were no updates to report on the investigation as of Monday, Dec. 5.

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Anti-LGBTQ dominates ‘divisive’ subjects tip line FOIA suit shows

The media outlets involved in the FOIA lawsuit include the Washington Post, the Associated Press, NPR and Washington D.C.’s NBC 4



Los Angeles Blade graphic

WASHINGTON – A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that several media outlets filed has revealed Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s tip line about the teaching of “divisive” subjects in the state’s schools received hundreds of emails.

The Washington Post on Thursday reported complaints about LGBTQ students and topics in schools are among the emails received.

“These books are, in my opinion, making children desensitized to healthy sexual relationships and are grooming in nature,” said a Spotsylvania County mother. 

Other parents said they were concerned about gender identity being taught in schools.

Youngkin shortly after he took office in January announced the tip line to which parents could have used to report the teaching of “divisive” subjects. Youngkin during an appearance with John Fredericks on “Outside the Beltway with John Fredericks” earlier this year did not specifically say whether parents should report teachers who are teaching about LGBTQ issues.

Youngkin’s administration in September shut down the tip line.

The Post and other media outlets filed the FOIA lawsuit in April.

Youngkin claimed the tip line emails fell under the FOIA exemption for a governor’s “working papers and correspondence.” The hundreds of emails that were released were just a fraction of the total number of tips, since the media outlets suing for this information claimed that the exemption Youngkin used did not apply to the tip lines since those were shared with individuals outside of the governor’s office. 

The media outlets involved in this lawsuit include the Post, the Associated Press, NPR and Washington D.C.’s NBC 4. 

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Virginia Education Dept. holds hearing on revision of trans policies

The majority of speakers who spoke at the Oct. 20 meeting expressed their opposition to the proposed revisions



Members of the Pride Liberation Project hold signs supporting LGBTQ youth at a Fairfax County School Board meeting. The Virginia Department of Education on Oct. 20, 2022, heard testimony for proposed revisions to guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – The Virginia Department of Education on Thursday heard testimony on Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed revisions to guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

The majority of speakers who spoke at the meeting expressed their opposition to the proposed revisions. They included students and parents who are worried about their trans and nonbinary children. 

 “If you enact these policies, children will die,” said trans student Guin Hartinger. 

Nancy Kunkel said she lives in constant fear of losing her trans daughter to suicide. 

The policies that are being proposed would force students to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex, rather than their gender identity. Trans students and their allies across Virginia have protested Youngkin’s proposed revisions to the guidelines that his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, signed into law in 2020.

Equality Virginia and their supporters attended Thursday’s meeting and have expressed their opposition to the proposed policy revisions online.

The public comment period ends on Oct. 26.

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Virginia school board passes LGBTQ History Month recognition

“Our policies and regulations will continue supporting our transgender and gender-expansive students, staff, & families from discrimination”



Students and community activists gather for a rally outside Luther Jackson Middle School on Thursday, Oct. 6. (Photo by Michael Key)

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. – A group of more than 200 activists gathered outside of Luther Jackson Middle School in Vienna on Thursday to object to the new “model policies” for transgender students proposed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration.

Many activists have voiced support for the policies enacted by the General Assembly and former Gov. Ralph Northam, which were intended to protect LGBTQ students in general, and trans and gender nonconforming students in particular. However, the Youngkin administration released revisions on Sept. 16 that differ substantially from the policies passed into law in 2020.

The activists oppose the revised “model policies” for including the mandate that students use school facilities for the sex they were assigned at birth and the restriction of students to be able to change their names and pronouns without parental permission. Further, the policies direct teachers and staff not to conceal a student’s gender identity from parents, even when a student asks to keep that information private.

Activists from the student-led Pride Liberation Project were joined by state Del. Marcus Simon (D-Falls Church), educators, students, concerned community members and activists from the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, Pride in FCPS and the Democratic Socialists of America ahead of the Fairfax County School Board meeting before it took place inside the middle school.

McLean High School senior Casey Calabia, a Pride Liberation Project organizer, spoke to the crowd.

“When I came here this afternoon, I made the active choice to forget the probability and statistics test I have because how can these classes mean anything to me when my rights are at risk, when my safety in a classroom is at risk,” said Calabia. “Education is not for parents, education is not for teachers, it is not for your next political agenda, education is for students.”

“It is to bring up the next generation to be competent, to be kind, to be loving and to feel safe where they deserve to be safe,” added Calabia. “How can my county do anything but make the necessary move for our education to keep us better? To keep us safe?”

“When it’s hard, when we face resistance, there are tons of people and thousands more that come to places like this to stand up for trans kids, to stand up for queer kids,” Calabia said. “I am proud that I get to honor a long-standing tradition of queerness, of being nonbinary, of being transgender. It is something I’m privileged to do every single day of my life. So it is here at FCPS that I’m grateful to everyone continuing to help defend my right to thrive. Every single one of my fellow students, teachers, staff and community members equally deserves their right to thrive.”

Fairfax County students were joined at the rally by parents like Laura Stokes.

“I’m a very proud parent of a trans nonbinary fourth grader in FCPS,” Stokes told the assembled activists.

“Whenever Youngkin says he’s about ‘respecting parents’ choice,’ I don’t feel like I’m reflected in that statement. What about parents like me?” Stokes asked. “I don’t see myself in that proposal. I don’t see myself in that policy.”

David Walrod of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers admonished the Youngkin administration.

“What we have seen from Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia Department of Education is unconscionable, reprehensible,” Walrod said.

“We’ve seen governors use students as political pawns before.” Walrod charged. “We’ve seen governors like Gregg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida create the most dehumanizing laws against LGBTQ students that they could think of. The Virginia legislature saw past the political games and they saw human beings, they saw students, they saw children.”

“The Northam administration supported these efforts and created policies meant to protect students, promote inclusion and equity and give students a chance to thrive,” Walrod continued. “Gov. Youngkin and Supt. Ballow on the other hand have shown us they don’t believe members of the LGBTQ+ community are worthy of protection. They’ve shown us that they support demonizing students to score political points.”

“I ask the school board to say ‘no’ to Glenn Youngkin,” Walrod said. “I ask the school board to say ‘no’ to Jillian Ballow and I ask the Fairfax County School Board to say ‘yes’ to giving students the ability to be themselves.”

Following the rally, activists filed into the Luther Jackson Middle School auditorium for the Fairfax County School Board’s public meeting.

Board Chair Rachna Sizemore Heizer began the meeting with a statement prepared by the board and acknowledged the large crowd of LGBTQ student activists in attendance.

“The Fairfax County School Board understands that our LGBTQIA+ students, staff, and families are worried about the impact of Gov. Youngkin’s proposed model policies for transgender and gender-expansive students,” Heizer read into the public record. “Nearly one in five transgender and non-binary youth attempted suicide in the last year. LGBTQIA+ youth who found their school to be affirming reported lower rates of attempting suicide. It is necessary to ensure our school community is a place where all students can live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, harassment or violence.”

“Our policies and regulations will continue supporting our transgender and gender-expansive students, staff, and families. Fairfax County School Board Policy 1450 protects students, educators, and other staff from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Heizer continued.

Heizer then listed the protections outlined in FCPS Regulation 2603 and reiterated the board’s commitment to the Viriginia Human Rights Act, Title IX and the “settled law of Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board,” requiring respect for students’ gender identity.

“Protecting, supporting and affirming our transgender and gender-expansive students is critical to achieving a safe and respectful learning environment for all students, and providing them with equal access to educational programs, services, and activities. The work to do so in a holistically inclusive way continues, but we know that, from this commitment, we will not waiver,” concluded Heizer.

The board later unanimously passed a resolution introduced by member Karl Frisch (Providence District) recognizing October as LGBTQ History Month in Fairfax County Public Schools.

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HS Students in Virginia stage massive walk-outs over Trans policy

The student-led Virginia-based Pride Liberation Project organizing mass walkouts and rallies in more than 90 schools across the state



Youth activists in schools across Virginia walked out of class to rally against proposed changes to school policy for LGBTQ students. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

FAIRFAX COUNTY – Thousands of students in schools across Virginia participated in walkouts and rallies on Tuesday to oppose the revised “model policies” on transgender students released by the Virginia Department of Education.

VDOE policy revisions were released on Sept. 16 and differ substantially from the policies passed into law in 2020.

The original policies on the treatment of trans students were intended to protect LGBTQ students; but the revised “model policies” have been criticized by activists, educators and legislators for mandating students use school facilities for the sex they were assigned at birth and bars students from changing their names and pronouns without parental permission. Further, the policies direct teachers and staff not to conceal a student’s gender identity from parents, even when a student asks to keep that information private.

The student-led Virginia-based Pride Liberation Project responded to these policy changes by organizing mass walkouts and rallies in more than 90 schools from Alexandria to Williamsburg.

“These proposed guidelines are essentially taking that cornerstone and using it to undermine our rights. If these guidelines are implemented, it will be the single biggest loss for queer rights in Virginia in years,” Natasha Sanghvi, a student organizer with the Pride Liberation Project, said in a statement.

Openly gay Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) in a statement said “these new model policies, which are in flagrant violation of Virginia law, will do serious harm to transgender students. They are not based in science or compassion and will lead to students being outed before they are ready, increased bullying and harassment of marginalized youth, and will require students to jump through legal hoops just to be referred to with their proper name.”

Ebbin joined several hundred students at West Potomac High School in Alexandria in a rally opposing the model policies proposed by Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

“The new policy drafts are only going to do more harm to trans students who are already at risk for being outed, harassed and harmed,” Jules Lombardi, a Fairfax County high school senior, told the Washington Blade. “These drafts will take schools, which are supposed to be safe environments for students, and make them spaces where students have to hide themselves for fear of their parents finding out about their identities.”

“This isn’t a matter of ‘parental rights,’ it’s a matter of human rights and we deserve to be treated with the same respect as cis students,” Lombardi added.

Students in more than 90 schools across Virginia participated in walkouts on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Andrea-Grace Mukuna, a senior at John R. Lewis High School in Springfield, told the Blade that “gender affirmation matters. Something so easily given to cisgender people is a right that our trans and gender non conforming youth deserve. I am walking out because schools will no longer be a safe place for queer students to be in if these policies get passed.”

“Requirements for teachers to refer to students by their birth name and pronouns aligning with their sex, rather than trusting our students to know themselves and who they are best, reinforces the idea that we as students have no power, no control and no knowledge over anything in our lives. Gender queer youth exist, and no policy can change that,” Mukuna said.

Mukuna continued, “making an attempt at denying them their ability to be who they are is a malicious attack on vulnerable students that could cause deathly harm.”

“I walk out for my queer community — there is no erasing us,” Mukuna said.

Several hundred students walked out of McLean High School. The walkout was lead by members of the school’s GSA and organizers from the Pride Liberation Project including McLean High School senior Casey Calabia.

Calibia asked the crowd, “Do we want Gov. Youngkin to understand that this is not what Virginia looks like?”

The crowd roared, “yes!”

“Virginia stands for trans kids. Trans and queer people are a fact of humanity. We will be accepted one way or another and to see everybody here today is another step toward that change,” said Calibia through a bull horn.

Calibia told the Blade in a pre-walkout statement said “to call these policies in favor of respecting trans students’ rights and privacy is to call an apple an orange. The 2022 Transgender Model policies, even as a draft, have begun to actively hurt my community’s mental health.”

“Instead of focusing on academics and our future, we have to sit in class and wonder if we will be safe in school,” Calibia concluded. “To not only take away the 2021 policies, a cornerstone in LGBTQIA+ rights for Virginia, but to mock them with these replacements, is a devastating blow to myself, trans students, queer students, and the whole of Virginia’s public school student body. How can we be safe, if we can be taken out of school-provided counseling, maliciously misgendered, and denied opportunities given to other students simply because of our gender? Accepting queer students in class does not indoctrinate or brainwash kids. It tells queer students like me that it is okay and safe to be ourselves in school.”

Students walk out of McLean High School on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to protest the Youngkin administration’s school policies
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The student protests in Virginia have made national news.

“This is a president who supports the LGBTQI+ community and has been supporting that community for some time now as a vice president, as senator, and certainly as president now,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in response to a question about the protests during her daily press briefing. “And he . . . always is proud to speak out against the mistreatment of that community … We believe and he believes transgender youth should be allowed to be able to go to school freely, to be able to express themselves freely, to be able to have the protections that they need to be who they are.”

“When it comes to this community, he is a partner, and he is a strong ally, as well as the vice president,” Jean-Pierre stated.

Walkouts and rallies were held at middle and high schools in Arlington, Bedford, Buchanan, Chesterfield, Culpeper, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Henrico, James City, Loudoun, Louisa, Montgomery, Powhatan, Prince George’s, Prince William, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Warren and York Counties as well as in the cities of Chesapeake, Newport News, Portsmouth, Richmond, Williamsburg and Winchester.

“Every parent wants Virginia’s laws to ensure children’s safety, freedom, and to encourage a vibrant and engaging learning experience. But the Virginia Department of Education is rejecting those shared values by advancing policies that will target LGBTQ kids for harassment and mistreatment simply because of who they are,” said Ebbin.

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Virginia’s new guidelines stipulates parental input on trans kids

“A trans youth who is not openly out to family effectively would be forcibly outed which would cause serious harm in most cases”



During his back-to-school rally in Fairfax County, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin blasted Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) transgender and gender expansive student policy, called Regulation 2603. (Screenshot WJLA ABC 7)

RICHMOND – The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Education released its new guidelines Friday that requires school administrators, faculty, and staff receive written permission from parents regarding embracing or recognizing a trans student’s gender identity.

With today’s release, the Department of Education’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools (the “2021 Model Policies”), adopted on March 4, 2021, was effectively repealed and replaced. The emphasis in Friday’s document was centered on ‘parental rights.’ The new set of guidelines also took aim at the 2021 guidance noting:

The 2021 Model Policies promoted a specific viewpoint aimed at achieving cultural and
social transformation in schools. The 2021 Model Policies also disregarded the rights of parents and ignored other legal and constitutional principles that significantly impact how schools educate students, including transgender students. With the publication of these 2022 Model Policies on the Privacy, Dignity, and Respect for All Students and Parents in Virginia’s Public Schools (the “2022 Model Policies”), the Department hereby withdraws the 2021 Model Policies, which shall have no further force and effect

The language reflects a campaign promise by Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin to respect parental rights in public education. LGBTQ+ advocates however, expressed alarm over the section reading:

The phrase ‘transgender student’ shall mean a public school student whose parent has requested in writing, due to their child’s persistent and sincere belief that his or her gender differs with his or her sex, that their child be so identified while at school,” the guidelines read.

Parents are in the best position to work with their children … to determine (a) what names, nicknames, and/or pronouns, if any, shall be used for their child by teachers and school staff while their child is at school, (b) whether their child engages in any counseling or social transition at school that encourages a gender that differs from their child’s sex, or (c) whether their child expresses a gender that differs with their child’s sex while at school,” the policy continues.”

A trans activist who has children enrolled in the Fairfax County School District, the state’s largest school system and who asked to not be identified, told the Blade that in effect, a trans youth who is not openly out to family effectively would be forcibly outed which would cause serious harm in most cases.

The other aspect the activist noted that the guidelines effectively require school staff and faculty to misgender trans students.


School Division] personnel shall refer to each student using only (i) the name that appears in the student’s official record, or (ii) if the student prefers, using any nickname commonly associated with the name that appears in the student’s official record.

School Division] personnel shall refer to each student using only the pronouns
appropriate to the sex appearing in the student’s official record – that is, male
pronouns for a student whose legal sex is male, and female pronouns for a
student whose legal sex is female

Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of this section,
[School Division] personnel shall refer to a student by a name other than one in
the student’s official record, or by pronouns other than those appropriate to the
sex appearing in the student’s official record, only if an eligible student or a
student’s parent has instructed [School Division] in writing that such other
name or other pronouns be used because of the student’s persistent and sincere
belief that the student’s gender differs from his or her sex.

Any written instruction from a parent or eligible student under paragraph (4) of
this section shall be memorialized in the student’s official record and subject to
the same retention, disclosure, and confidentiality requirements as the official
record itself. The legal name and sex of a student shall not be changed, even upon the written instruction of a parent or eligible student

The state’s governor has waged war on the LGBTQ+ community, focused especially on trans youth. At the beginning of September at a rally in Annandale, in the suburban Washington D.C. metropolitan region, Gov. Youngkin called for schools to out trans and gender nonconforming students to their parents and guardians, prompting a rebuke from GLSEN. 

The organization’s Executive Director Melanie Willingham-Jaggers condemned the Governor’s comments in an exclusive emailed statement to The Los Angeles Blade, writing: “It’s devastating to see politically motivated attempts to break trust between students and educators and to force educators to violate students’ privacy by outing them to guardians.” 

They added, “This kind of hostile school climate puts trans youth at greater risk of harassment, mental health challenges or discrimination. Transgender and nonbinary students need respect and autonomy, not additional scrutiny and policing of their gender identity in school.”

“They think that parents have no right to know what your child is discussing with their teacher or their counselor, particularly when some of the most important topics, most important topics that a child may want to discuss are being determined,” the Governor said during the rally.

“What’s their name? What pronoun will they use? How are they going to express their gender? This is a decision that bureaucrats in Fairfax County believe that they should be able to make without telling parents,” Gov. Youngkin said. 

Protecting students’ privacy is a core element of “A Guide for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students,” published by GLSEN and the ACLU. 

Equality Virginia on Thursday announced it will track whether school boards have implemented the Virginia Department of Education’s guidelines for transgender and nonbinary students.

Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman in a press release notes “almost half of Virginia’s K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students” since their issuance in 2020. 

“These policies, developed in accordance with evidence-based best practices, give teachers and administrators critical tools to create safe, inclusive and learning environments for all students,” said Rahaman. “School boards in every corner of our commonwealth have a unique and urgent opportunity to protect transgender students by adopting the model policies.”

Equality Virginia in its press release further noted the School Board Policy and Meeting Tracker will “provide parents, advocates and students information on local school board meetings, potential agenda items and opportunity for public comment, and whether the school district has adopted” the guidelines.

The other issue within the new set of guidelines the activist told the Blade, is that the language almost nullifies the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of then high school student Gavin Grimm who fought against his school policy on use of school restrooms and changing rooms.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Gloucester County, Virginia, School District’s policies that prohibited students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that did not correspond with their “biological gender” and denied them transcripts that correspond to their gender identity was unconstitutional.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2021 declined to hear the case upholding the 4th Circuit ruling.

Additionally reporting by Christopher Kane and Michael K. Lavers

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